This year, coach Butch Jones could have tried to generate a buzz around the Volunteers by tabbing a group of emerging juniors from visible position groups to represent them at the annual offseason frenzy.
Instead, he opted for seniority over potential stardom.
Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, offensive guard Jashon Robertson and defensive tackle Kendal Vickers, all seniors, will represent the Vols in front of the hundreds of journalists who will assemble at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., on Monday when Tennessee takes its turn on the opening day of the four-day event.
On Wednesday, the league announced a schedule for the week and player representatives from all 14 schools.
Tennessee will share the spotlight with LSU and Arkansas on Monday after league commissioner Greg Sankey begins the event with an address at 12:35 p.m. Eastern. Georgia takes its turn Tuesday, while Alabama’s appearance is Wednesday.
For Tennessee, the combination of wide receiver Jauan Jennings, running back John Kelly and linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. would have given the league an early introduction to three players expected to produce big numbers in 2017. But Moseley, Robertson and Vickers have been mainstays on the field for Tennessee since the 2014 season, and each is the most experienced at his position on the roster.
Vickers is a fifth-year senior who has started 25 games the past two seasons as Tennessee has dealt with injuries on the defensive line. A native of Havelock, N.C., who once was committed to South Carolina, he posted a career-high seven tackles in a loss to the Gamecocks last season.
Robertson switched from defense to the offensive line before his freshman season and started every game. The Nashville native has started 34 games in his Tennessee career and is considered the anchor of what should be a deep group.
Moseley has been through ups and downs at cornerback over his Tennessee career but has played in all but one game since his debut in 2014. The Greensboro, N.C., native racked up 57 tackles and six pass deflections last season.
Tennessee opens the season against Georgia Tech at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sept. 4.
— David Cobb, Chattanooga Times Free Press